Using Journaling to Magnify your Calling

In the Church, not only are we asked to serve in callings, but the Lord also expects us to magnify them.

I don’t really think that this is a hard thing to want to do. I love my Heavenly Father. I’m always happy to serve Him in various ways. However, sometimes it is hard to know how to magnify our callings. I’ve found that we can effectively magnify our callings when we are keeping a journal.

Here’s a quick background to how journaling came about for me…

A little while ago, I was serving in a Young Women’s Presidency. I loved the calling, I loved the young women, and I felt like I always magnified my calling. Our Bishop gave us a charge to be sure that we were always inviting the Spirit into every activity. I knew that he was right, but I also knew that I was working with 14 and 15 year old young women. I remember being that age. I was a little…fun! I was a vibrant young woman. Maybe some would say I was a little talkative. After a day of early morning seminary and school, I would come to Young Women’s ready to see my friends and be active. I wanted to chat, play, and be a 15-year-old-girl. I loved the gospel, and never minded doing spiritual things, but often, during the mid-week activity, I didn’t want to sit around and listen to a talk. I couldn’t help it. I was just not able to sit still after a long day.

When the Bishop gave us the charge to make our meetings more spiritual, I couldn’t help but think of the challenge I faced. It wouldn’t be as simple as he suggested. I knew how I would have acted as a youth, and I knew that I needed to fulfill his charge in a way that was still engaging and fun.

Sometimes, it was hard to defend my choice of activity, and I didn’t want to get in trouble. We had one activity – in particular – that the girls loved, but I knew didn’t fit into the advice I had just received: We made tie-dye tee shirts.

The activity was crazy. It was colorful. We had fun, talked, and made cute clothes. We had an opening song and prayer, but that was it as far as a Spiritual experience was concerned. I went home that evening, worried that I hadn’t magnified my calling.

That’s when I got the idea to start a journal – I found a notebook and dedicated it to recording and evaluating each activity (and later lesson).

My Young Women’s Activities Journal

It was nothing fancy – just some $.20 journal from my local box store. I proceeded to write in the journal, and evaluate the tie-dye activity. Something miraculous happened – the spirit confirmed to me that what we did was a good activity: I didn’t need to worry. I also learned the lesson of the activity. I had the tie-dye shirts – the girls hadn’t seen them yet, and wouldn’t get them until Sunday. Because I unwrapped them and washed them, I was able to see how amazing the shirts turned out. It was an act of faith on Wednesday night – to make the shirt, hoping it would be cute.

On Sunday, when I gave the shirts to the young women, I also gave a quick Spiritual thought – reminding them of how they hadn’t tie-dyed shirts, yet they trusted me because I had. Because they had listened and trusted, they were now the owners of really great tie-dye shirts! Our activity indeed had spiritual application!

The point of this post isn’t to talk about the tie-dye shirts (even though I’ve spent a lot of time talking about them), but is to explain journaling in regards to callings. As I started using this journal to record my experiences with activities, I became more aware of the needs of the youth I was serving. I was able to be more forward thinking, too. I was filled with confidence to know that many of the things that I was doing was good, even if we didn’t always get feedback. Keeping the journal was my way of being accountable to myself (and the Lord) on how I was magnifying my calling. I began to use this journal – not only for activities, but also lessons and other meetings associated with my calling at that time.

So – here’s how you do it!

Making a “Callings” Journal
One: Get a notebook. Anything will do. Make sure you set it aside, specifically for your calling.
Two: On the top of the page, write the date and the title of the activity, lesson, or whatever you are reporting and evaluating.

Describe the activity and Evaluate.

Three: First, describe the activity. The more details, the better. If you write it out, you will have this as a reference in the future – if you decide to do the activity again (which could easily happen). This step also helps in future planning, as you’re better able to recall details that sometimes are overlooked but have a big impact.
Four: Write the evaluation of the activity. Was the purpose of the activity achieved? Did it run well? Was it organized? How could it improve? What went well? Make sure that you not only take time to notice where you need to improve, but what worked. When you take time to really think about the positive points of your activity (lesson, talk, whatever), then you will feel the happiness and accomplishment that comes from serving the Lord as well as you can.

Even though this example is for a youth calling, I have also started a journal for my current calling of Primary Chorister. Having a Journal to help me review and evaluate my calling is kind of like “returning and reporting.” I’m able to really think about what happened, and hold myself accountable for the kind of offering I gave to the Lord and to those whom I have been called to serve.

Do you keep track of your activities/lessons/meetings in a journal? What do you include? If you decide to try this out, let me know how it goes!


Young Women New Beginnings Carnival

A few weeks ago, we had our New Beginnings. We decided to do something a little different than usual. Since New Beginnings is supposed to get everyone excited about the Young Women’s Program, Personal Progress, and the Theme, we thought it would be fun to do a carnival.

Everyone had fun!

When each young woman walked into the gym, they could find a name tag (color-coded) with ten tickets. She could take her tag, put it on, and then we sat down in the gym to open the activity.

We started all together in the gym and sang a song written by one of the young women. After the song, we introduced our newest “carnies” – the new Beehives. We brought up each girl one by one – along with their “carnival job” (eg: tight rope walkers, clown crew, pony guide…). We told a few fun facts about each young women, and also some cute things like what they would have as a superpower if they could have one.

After we introduced the new Beehives, we separated into groups (according to the color on the nametag). We had four stations: Camp and Activities, Personal Progress, Games, and Themes.

Camp and Activities
For this “booth” we showed this video:

(Before this activity, we interviewed our young women, then edited the movies to be watched during the activity).

The young women and their parents also received information like the dates for camp, youth conference, and other “big” activities.

Personal Progress
For the Personal Progress “booth” – we separated the parents and the Young Women. In both “booths” we showed this video:

Don’t you love this video? The young women were able to see their peers testify of their experiences with the Personal Progress Program. We also talked about how to overcome the problems the Young Women face when trying to accomplish Personal Progress.

The adults were able to watch this video – and see their own children’s testimonies of the Personal Progress Program. Who wouldn’t want this for their daughters? We encouraged the parents, especially the mothers, to work on Personal Progress and to have personal conversations about Personal Progress – rather than nagging their daughters.

In this booth, we showed the following video:

We talked about themes – the Young Women’s theme, the theme for each class, the theme for the year. We talked about how themes help us have direction in our lives and understand our purposes.

One rotation in the evening was games.

Carnie - Basketball

The girls played basketball (using a fisher-price hoop), tossed ping-pong balls into cups, and we also had a photo booth set up:
Fun in the Photo Booth.

More Fun in the Photo Booth!

At the photo booth, we had wigs (including a mullet wig!), hats, and other fun “dress-up” items. The Young Women especially loved the wigs, so if you do the photo booth, don’t forget them! The photo booth was fun. We had a woman in the ward come to the event to take pictures. We are so grateful for her hard work and awesome pictures. 🙂

Prizes and Conclusion
At the end of the evening, we got back together. Remember how each young woman received tickets at the beginning of the activity? Well, every time they went to a booth, they would give the leader a ticket. All of the tickets were collected and we had a raffle! We raffled off four items: a framed picture of the Nauvoo Temple, cute framed word-art (I am – a daughter of God, silly, happy, spiritual, smart, sensitive, cute, etc.), a Young Women Values Pennant Necklace, and a Pioneer Bonnet (we are doing Trek this year).

The young women were so excited for the raffle.

We also had consolation prizes for everyone.

No one left empty-handed.

These cute packs included a CD, bookmark, and a set of value-colored beaded bracelets.

Finally, the Bishop spoke, closed the event, we had a prayer, and then – best for last: Refreshments!

Popcorn, Pretzels, Caramel Apples...Yum!

New Beginnings is always a special activity, so we tend to get a little bit more detailed for it. This year we went all out, but we did what we felt was best for us. The most important thing to do is follow the Spirit. We had a lot of fun with this carnival. It was great to have a balance of spiritual and fun. The young women loved it. They were excited for it. They were able to play games and be edified by their own testimonies and the testimonies of their peers. And, it never hurts when an activity has amazing food!

Personal Testimonies of Personal Progress

I have been privileged to serve the Young Women for the past few years. I love being able to be with the youth. They are so vibrant, happy, and fun. They also are grounded and inspiring. They dream, think, and teach me so much.

Watch this video of some of the young women from my ward bearing their testimonies of the Personal Progress Program. These young women are amazing.

YW Activity Idea: Month-long Heart Attack

If you are in any way acquainted with the Young Women’s program in the LDS Church, then I’m sure that you’ve heard of the Heart Attack activity. Our ward has done it before. Actually, we’ve done it several times.

The girls always love doing Heart Attacks, which is great. I’m happy that they are so service-oriented, and that they want to do something to let their friends know how much they love them.

However, we’ve given several Heart Attacks. And, for the most part, they have all been given to one person. We have done heart attacks at Valentine’s Day, for Birthday’s at Halloween, you name it, we’ve done it.

So, we had Heart Attacks on the schedule for this month, and I just kept getting the feeling that we needed to do something a little different. I know that this sounds crazy – why on earth would I try to stop the young women doing from something that was a good service? I just felt like we were headed in the wrong direction.

Well, I was doing a little searching around on the interwebs, and I came across this post. It was perfect! I realized, we would still do heart attacks for the activity, but instead, we would be doing a heart attack that lasted an entire month.


Month-Long Heart Attack Activity

  • Make one heart for every day in the month. Have fun with this. Use cardstock, glitter, cute papers, doilies, whatever you like!
  • Bring a big manila envelope – enough for each young woman (and leader!) participating. This is where you’ll store the hearts throughout the month.
  • On the front of the envelope, write a contract:

    “I ___[name]_____ promise to give service to another every single day for the month of _______” [signature]

  • You may consider preparing a list of good ideas of service for the young women – to get their ideas going… There is a great list of service ideas here.
  • Spend the evening creating cute Valentine’s, talk about service, bond with one another, and commit to serving others throughout the entire month.
  • Instruct the young women to leave a “heart” behind – wherever they served. By the end of the month, they shouldn’t have any hearts left.

This could easily work in March – maybe make little shamrocks…service leprechauns or something like that. You could also make it Easter-themed, Christmas-themed, or even Halloween-themed (service witch?) I think that this could be adapted to any season. The young women loved making the valentines and they were really excited about serving others throughout the month.

Oh – and remember to follow up with the young women throughout the month.

Have fun, and if you’ve done something like this, how did it go for you? Do you have any other tips?

YW Activity Idea – Johnny Lingo and Self Worth

We have actually had a rather mild winter, so I can’t complain, but back when we were planning this activity, we thought it would be fun to do a “tropical” activity in winter to help us beat the blues…

This activity was a combined Young Women’s activity (Laurels, Mia Maids, and Beehives – not combined with the Young Men) which was especially nice because then we had plenty of people to make skits and have fun.

The Activity
We started the activity by watching Johnny Lingo. – That’s right, the old classic. If you haven’t seen it before – be warned…it is super cheesy. And if you have seen it before, but it’s been a while, warning: it is cheesier than you remember. In fact, it can be a little petty, but have fun with it – don’t take the movie too seriously.

We also had “Hawaiian Haystacks” to eat during the movie. If I had planned this better, I would have just made some kind of Piña Colada (virgin, of course). But for some reason, I just said we’d eat Hawaiian Haystacks. If you’re not familiar with them, then you can find a recipe here. They aren’t anything special, but they go with the theme of the activity. We put stuck little umbrellas on top, and the girls liked that.

The really great thing about having the young women eat while watching the movie is that everyone was soooo quiet! – So definitely serve something.

The movie only lasts 25 minutes, so you have to do something else. When I introduced the movie, I mentioned that the girls should watch to see what the “message” of the movie was.

After the movie, the young women broke out into groups of about six, and they had to come up with a short skit (“commercial”) that would help to promote the real idea of a woman’s self worth.

They had about twenty minutes to make their skits. After they were done planning, we made videos. Here is one that we made:

They had a lot of fun with the activity. It beat away the winter blues, we laughed at cheesy Johnny Lingo and Mahana, and we had fun creating our own little advertisements for self-worth.

Hopefully this helps to give you some good ideas for your own activity. This could also be a fun FHE. If you do (or have done) something like this, please share!

Cookie Dough and Bucket Lists – YW Class Activity Idea

In case you don’t know, I’m currently serving as the first counselor in my ward’s Young women’s organization. I love it.

First of all, we have a really amazing group of girls. Second of all, it is fun!

So…last night, we had our first activity for the year. Here’s an idea of what we did – maybe it will help you.

Cookie Dough
When we were planning the activity, the girls said that they wanted to make cookie dough and then eat it for an activity. I figured why not, so we planned on it.

I found a recipe online for eggless cookie dough.
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup or so chocolate chips

1. Beat the butter and sugars until fluffy.
2. Add the milk and vanilla.
3. Beat in the flour, salt, and baking soda. (you may find that the batter is dry, if so, add in milk as needed)
4. Mix in chocolate chips.
5. Either chill so it hardens a bit or enjoy.

Obviously, the young women were ready to eat it as soon as it was mixed up. I also brought some ice cream so we could mix the cookie dough and ice cream together.

Since I’m a responsible young women’s leader, I couldn’t leave the activity simply at cookie dough. I knew that we needed to have a purpose.

One of the young women in our class turns sixteen this week (we will miss her), and it got me thinking about birthdays. I also have had the idea of New Year’s resolutions in my head. So, I figured that the perfect activity would be to make “bucket lists.”

Bucket List
We didn’t make traditional “bucket lists” for this activity – as in things to do before we die. Instead, we decided to do a list of things to do before our next birthday. For example: Sixteen things to do before I turn sixteen…
(Did I mention that I have a really awesome group of Mia Maids?!)

The Mia Maid Advisor and I brought fun cardstock and markers and let the girls eat ice cream, cookie dough, and write their lists. It was a lot of fun.

My only regret with the evening is that I didn’t take more time expressing the importance of living a happy and abundant life. One of the young women in our class is going through a very poignant trial. Her father had a stroke last weekend, and he remembers very little. You can read about her family’s experience here. Warning: you will cry! But their hope and positivity are amazing. As I was getting paper and supplies together for this activity, I couldn’t help but think about how fragile our lives our – and how important it is to have goals, to build relationships, and never to take for granted our short time on this earth. I have been taught this lesson time and again this last year. I need to really do it myself.

I didn’t write a “bucket list.” But I feel like I should have…So, I’m going to write mine here.

34 Things to Do Before I Turn 34

  1. Run a 5K in less than 30 minutes.
  2. Do two pull-ups.
  3. Read Atlas Shrugged.
  4. Read Anna Karenina.
  5. Finish my Italian Rosetta Stone Course.
  6. Play a game of tennis – with anyone.
  7. Make Croissants.
  8. Submit my Scripture Study book for publishing.
  9. Enter a poetry contest.
  10. Make my brother’s blanket.
  11. Memorize 1 new scripture a month.
  12. Read the Doctrine and Covenants 2 more times.
  13. Hold FHE each week.
  14. Create a budget .xls for 2012 and keep it up monthly.
  15. Go on a hike.
  16. Use the telescope monthly.
  17. Find a constellation – other than Big or Little Dippers.
  18. Write 3 humorous essays.
  19. Take the kids on mommy-daughter (son) dates.
  20. Ride my bike.
  21. Create good artwork.
  22. Enjoy the process of life.
  23. Be a disciple of the Savior.
  24. Don’t be jealous of others, instead, find happiness in their opportunities and success.
  25. Learn a new (classical) song on the piano.
  26. Learn a new (popular) song on the piano (by ear).
  27. Teach children how to play the piano.
  28. Bake 5 new bread recipes -including sourdough…
  29. 52 dates with Homey.
  30. Get Family book from 2011 printed.
  31. Write letters to my grandmas.
  32. Go to the temple for my ancestors.
  33. Fit into my pre-pregnancy pants.
  34. Work on becoming rather than accomplishing.

What are some of the items on your “bucket” list?

The Power of Modesty

Recently, in our ward, the young women had a fashion show. Our laurel advisor planned the entire activity, and it turned out really great. The fashion show was really laid back, cute, and fun. All of the girls modeled a school outfit and a Sunday outfit. We had treats, cute pom-pom flower decorations, and fun “runway” music. The entire night went really well.

As part of the activity, I was asked to speak a little bit on Modesty. I was grateful for the opportunity because I’ve been thinking about it. Here is the talk.

How many of you have heard that we need to be modest before tonight? [They will all raise their hands…]

So – you’re saying that tonight isn’t the first time you’ve heard about being modest?

Why do you think that the leaders/church make such a big deal about being Modest? I mean, you’re not actually doing something horrible, right? It doesn’t hurt anyone, right?

Not really.

In the for strength of youth, we read, “Prophets of God have always counseled His children to dress modestly.” – ALWAYS – This advice isn’t something new. I guess the Nephite young women also had fashion show activities where they heard about Modesty! … “The way you dress is a reflection of what you are on the inside. Your dress and grooming send messages about you to others and influence the way you and others act.” – Is this really true? Do we send messages to others by the way we dress? [At this point, I showed various pictures, and we discussed them. I showed a picture of a Punk Rocker. The discussion went a little like this: What kind of reaction is he trying to get? Do you think that he is really into the Republican Party?… Maybe a little anti-establishment. Do you think that his outfit says, “I enjoy Jeopardy and the Opera?” … not really. We discussed a few other pictures of people dressed in styles or uniforms. So…we can agree – how we dress will send a message to other people.

Think about the message you are sending? Is it, “I don’t care”? or is it, “I care wayyy too much”? Maybe the message you’re sending is, “I’m not sure what a shower is…”. While it isn’t right for us to judge others based on appearances, we still want to be sure that we are sending the right message to those who see us. Our appearance can even affect how we eventually see ourselves. We want our outer image to reflect what is on the inside.

“When you are well groomed and modestly dressed, you invite the companionship of the Spirit and can exercise a good influence on those around you.” – Be a good influence. You have a lot of power. Choose to influence others in a positive way. How do you think that the way you are dressed may influence other young women? Young men?

I would like to bring up two scriptural examples of two very powerful women. The first is Esther. Anciently, there was a king – King Ahasuerus – who was seeking a new queen. So – he had some of his servants look throughout the kingdom to gather fair virgins. Esther was included in this group. [Pause here – and reinforce that Esther was 1) fair 2) a virgin. – sure was beautiful and pure]

The servants of the king gathered these women, and before showing them to the king, the women went through a period of “purification” – the scriptures explain, “Now when every maid’s turn was come to go into King Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, an six months with sweet odours, and with other things for the purifying of the women;)”…[12 months of purification! 12 months of “getting ready”!] …”And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head.”

Esther was beautiful and pure, and both her beauty and purity was reflected by how she appeared before the king.

As the queen, Esther faced a major challenge. One of the King’s men hated Jews and had persuaded the King to make an edict to have all of the Jews in the kingdom killed. Unknown to the king was the fact that Esther was a Jew. When she heard about the order, she was in a major dilemma – she and all of her people were sentenced to death.

She decided to have the people fast and pray, and then she would go to the king.

Oh – and another twist – she risked her life in “going to the king”. Then, the king had the power to have someone killed if they came to him without being summoned. She knew that she risked execution by going before the king, but it was all she could do to save her people. She resolved to face him, and she was prepared for any outcome.

The scriptures tell, “Now it came to pass on the third day, [of fasting] that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the kings house, …And…when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, that she obtained favor in his sight.”

What was Esther wearing? Do you think that she was dressed modestly? Do you think that she went some extra lengths to make sure her appearance was at its best? Why do you think that she did? Why did it matter – how she looked or was dressed? Do you think that this possibly made an impact on the king?

Because of the beauty, purity, faith and courage of Esther, she was able to save an entire nation. Esther was powerful.

Here’s another story of another powerful woman – who had a power similar to Esther’s, but she used it very differently.

In the Book of Mormon was a pretty wicked dude – named Jared – who wanted to be king, but his dad was king. Jared was pretty upset by the fact that his father was in power. In fact, he wasn’t just upset, he was jealous.

Jared’s daughter noticed this. She wanted Jared, to be king, too.

The scriptures tell, “Now the daughter of Jared being exceedingly expert, and seeing the sorrows of her father, thought to devise a plan whereby she could redeem the kingdom unto her father.” So – guess, do you think that this is going to be a good plan…or evil? Continuing on, “Now the daughter of Jared was exceedingly fair….” – [How do the scriptures describe her? exceedingly fair. Hottie. Well, she talks to her dad and asks him why he’s so upset. She then asks, “Behold, is there not an account concerning them of old, that they by their secret plans did obtain kingdoms and great glory?”

So – What is she trying to get her dad to do? She wants him to start a secret combination – what do you know about secret combinations? So – what do you think of Jared’s daughter now? Do you think that her plan will be good? Effective, maybe, but not good. She, certainly, isn’t fasting for three days and nights…

Here’s her plan, “And now, therefore, let my father send for Akish, the son of Kimnor; and behold, I am fair, and I will dance before him, and I will please him, that he will desire me to wife; wherefore if he shall desire of thee that ye shall give unto him me to wife, then shall ye say: I will give her if ye will bring unto me the head of my father, the king.” What do you think about this plan? Well – this is what happened, she danced for Akish, he wanted her, and her father asked for her grandfather’s head…

So…do you think that, when Jared’s daughter danced for Akish, she was dressed modestly? I think that we can safely assume the dance was pornographic. It would have to be…Otherwise, why would Akish think that murdering her grandfather would be reasonable.

Jared’s daughter was attractive and she knew it. She knew that she had great power – in her body. And she used this power to introduce secret combinations. Moroni tells us that these secret combinations, “have caused the destruction of this people.” Jared’s daughter used her power to destroy a nation.

We can see the stark contrast here – between a modest woman and an immodest one. Both were beautiful. Both were powerful. But in one instance, the beauty and appearance of a woman saved a nation. In the second, her beauty and appearance destroyed her people.

We have power in our bodies. We really do. We have the power to attract men. I didn’t want this talk to be all about, “dress modestly so that you don’t turn on men.” Because dressing modestly is about more than how it affects men. Dressing modestly will also affect you. You have the power to create human life. You have the power to become like God. You have many powers within you, so make sure that how you dress accurately reflects the beauty you currently have and the potential of what you will be. Keep your power sacred – like Esther did. As you do so, you will develop a true sense of confidence – one that is based on who you actually are rather than what you appear to be.